“The escalation of security breaches involving personally identifiable information (PII) has contributed to the loss of millions of records over the past few years. Breaches involving PII are hazardous to both individuals and organizations. Individual harms may include identity theft, embarrassment, or blackmail. Organizational harms may include a loss of public trust, legal liability, or remediation costs. To appropriately protect the confidentiality of PII, organizations should use a risk-based approach; as McGeorge Bundy once stated, “If we guard our toothbrushes and diamonds with equal zeal, we will lose fewer toothbrushes and more diamonds.” This document provides guidelines for a risk-based approach to protecting the confidentiality of PII. The recommendations in this document are intended primarily for U.S. Federal government agencies and those who conduct business on behalf of the agencies,5 but other organizations may find portions of the publication useful. Each organization may be subject to a different combination of laws, regulations, and other mandates related to protecting PII, so an organizations legal counsel and privacy officer should be consulted to determine the current obligations for PII protection. For example, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued several memoranda with requirements for how Federal agencies must handle and protect PII. To effectively protect PII, organizations should implement the following recommendations.”
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